How to recreate yourself by law of power articles from the original book

Do not accept the roles that society foists on you.
Re-create yourself by forging a new identity, one that
commands attention and never bores the audience. Be
the master of your own image rather than letting others
define it for you. Incorporate dramatic devices into your
public gestures and actions-your power will be enhanced and your character will seem larger than life.
The man who intends
to make his fortune in
this ancient capital of
the world fRome] must
be a chameleon susceptible of reflecting the
colors ofthe atmosphere that surrounds
him-a Proteus apt to
assume every form,
every shape. He must
be supple, 

insinuating, dose,
inscrutable, often base,
sometimes sincere,
sometimes perfidious,
always concealing a
part of his knowledge,
indulging in but one
tone of voice, patient,
a perfect master of his
own countenance, as
cold as ice when any
other man would be all
fire; and if unfortuntltely he is not religious
at heart-a very
common occurrence
for a soul possessing
the above requisiteshe must have religion
in his mind, that is to
say, on his face, on his
lips, in his manners; he
must suffer quietly, if
he be an honest man,
the necessity of knowing himself an arrant

The man
whose soul would
loathe such a life
should leave Rome and
seek his fortune elsewhere. I do not know
whether I am praising
or excusing myself, but
of all those qualities I
possessed but onenamely, flexibility.
192 LAW 25
Julius Caesar made his first significant mark on Roman society in 65 B.C.,
when he assumed the post of aedile, the official in charge of grain distribution and public games. He began his entrance into the public eye by organizing a series of carefully crafted and well-timed spectacles-wild-beast
hunts, extravagant gladiator shows, theatrical contests. On several occasions, he paid for these spectacles out of his own pocket. To the common
man, Julius Caesar became indelibly associated with these much-Ioved
events. As he slowly rose to attain the position of consul, his popularity
among the masses served as the foundation of his power. He had created
an image of hirnself as a great public showman.
In 49 B.C., Rome was on the brink of a civil war between rival leaders,
Caesar and Pompey. At the height of the tension, Caesar, an addict of the
stage, attended a theatrical performance, and afterward, lost in thought, he
wandered in the darkness back to his camp at the Rubicon, the river that
divides ltaly from Gaul, where he had been campaigning. To march his
army back into Italy across the Rubicon would mean the beginning of a
war with Pompey.
Before his staff Caesar argued both sides, forming the options like an
actor on stage, a precursor of Hamlet. Finally, to put his soliloquy to an
end, he pointed to a seemingly innocent apparition at the edge of the
river-a very tall soldier blasting a call on a trumpet, then going across a
bridge over the Rubicon-and pronounced, "Let us accept this as a sign
from the Gods and follow where they beckon, in vengeance on our doubledealing enemies. The die is cast." All of this he spoke portentously and dramatically, gesturing toward the river and looking his generals in the eye.
He knew that these generals were uncertain in their support, but his oratory overwhelmed them with a sense of the drama of the moment, and of
the need to seize the time. A more prosaic speech would never have had
the same effect. The generals rallied to his cause; Caesar and his army
crossed the Rubicon and by the following year had vanquished Pompey,
making Caesar dictator of Rome.
In warfare, Caesar always played the leading man with gusto. He was
as skilIed a horseman as any of his soldiers, and took pride in outdoing
them in feats of bravery and endurance. He entered battle astride the
strongest mount, so that his soldiers would see hirn in the thick of battle,
urging them on, always positioning hirnself in the center, a godlike symbol
of power and a model for them to follow. Of all the armies in Rome, Caesar's was the most devoted and loyal. His soldiers, like the common people
who had attended his entertainments, had come to identify with hirn and
with his cause.
After the defeat of Pompey, the entertainments grew in scale. Nothing
like them had ever been seen in Rome. The chariot races became more
spectacular, the gladiator fights more dramatic, as Caesar staged fights to
the death among the Roman nobility. He organized enormous mock naval
battles on an artificial lake. Plays were performed in every Roman ward. A
giant new theater was built that sloped dramatically down the Tarpeian
Rock. Crowds from all over the empire flocked to these events, the roads to
Rome lined with visitors' tents. And in 45 B.C., timing his entry into the city
for maximum effect and surprise, Caesar brought Cleopatra back to Rome
after his Egyptian campaign, and staged even more extravagant public
These events were more than devices to divert the masses; they dramatically enhanced the public's sense of Caesar's character, and made hirn
seem larger than life. Caesar was the master of his public image, of which
he was forever aware. When he appeared before crowds he wore the most
spectacular purple robes. He would be upstaged by no one. He was notoriously vain about his appearance-it was said that one reason he enjoyed
being honored by the Senate and people was that on these occasions he
could wear a laurel wreath, hiding his baldness. Caesar was a masterful orator. He knew how to say a lot by saying a little, intuited the moment to
end a speech for maximum effect. He never failed to incorporate a surprise
into his public appearances-a startling announcement that would
heighten their drama.
Immensely popular among the Roman people, Caesar was hated and
feared by his rivals. On the ides of March-March 15-in the year 44 B.C.,
a group of conspirators led by Brutus and Cassius surrounded hirn in the
senate and stabbed hirn to death. Even dying, however, he kept his sense of

Drawing the top of his gown over his face, he let go of the cloth's
lower part so that it draped his legs, allowing hirn to die covered and decent. According to the Roman historian Suetonius, his final words to his
old friend Brutus, who was about to deliver a second blow, were in Greek,
and as if rehearsed for the end of a play: "You too, my child?"
The Roman theater was an event for the masses, attended by crowds
unimaginable today. Packed into enormous auditoriums, the audience
would be amused by raucous comedy or moved by high tragedy. 

seemed to contain the essence of life, in its concentrated, dramatic form.
Like a religious ritual, it had a powerful, instant appeal to the common
Julius Caesar was perhaps the first public figure to understand the vital
link between power and theater. This was because of his own obsessive interest in drama. He sublimated this interest by making bimself an actor and
director on the world stage. He said his lines as if they had been scripted;
he gestured and moved through a crowd with a constant sense of how he
appeared to his audience. He incorporated surprise into his repertoire,
building drama into bis speeches, staging into his public appearances. His
gestures were broad enough for the common man to grasp them instantly.
He became immensely popular . .
Caesar set the ideal for all leaders and people of power. Like hirn, you
must learn to enlarge YOUf actions through dramatic techniques such as
LAW 25 198
194 LAW 25
surprise, suspense, the creation of sympathy, and symbolic identification.
Also like hirn, you must be constantly aware of your audience---of what
will please them and what will bore them. You must arrange to place yourself at the center, to command attention, and never to be upstaged at any
In the year 1831, a young woman named Aurore Dupin Dudevant left her
husband and family in the provinces and moved to Paris. She wanted to be
a writer; marriage, she feIt, was worse than prison, for it left her neither the
time nor the freedom to pursue her passion. In Paris she would establish
her independence and make her living by writing.
Soon after Dudevant arrived in the capital, however, she had to confront certain harsh realities. To have any degree of freedom in Paris you
had to have money. For a woman, money could only come through marriage or prostitution. No woman had ever come close to making a living by
writing. Women wrote as a hobby, supported by their husbands, or by an
inheritance. In fact when Dudevant first showed her writing to an editor,
he told her, "You should make babies, Madame, not literature."
Clearly Dudevant had come to Paris to attempt the impossible. In the
end, though, she came up with a strategy to do what no woman had ever
done-a strategy to re-create herself completely, forging a public image of
her own making. Women writers before her had been forced into a readymade role,

 that of the second-rate artist who wrote mostly for other
women. Dudevant decided that if she had to play a role, she would turn the
game around: She would play the part of a man.
In 1832 a publisher accepted Dudevant's first major novel, Indiana.
She had chosen to publish it under a pseudonym, "George Sand," and all
of Paris assumed this impressive new writer was male. Dudevant had
sometimes worn men's clothes before creating "George Sand" (she had always found men's shirts and riding breeches more comfortable); now, as
a public figure, she exaggerated the image. She added long men's coats,
gray hats, heavy boots, and dandyish cravats to her wardrobe. 

She smoked
cigars and in conversation expressed herself like a man, unafraid to dominate the conversation or to use a saucy word.
This strange "malelfernale" writer fascinated the public. And unlike
other women writers, Sand found herself accepted into the clique of male
artists. She drank and smoked with them, even carried on affairs with the
most famous artists of Europe-

--Musset, Liszt, Chopin. It was she who did
the wooing, and also the abandoning-she moved on at her discretion.
Those who knew Sand well understood that her male persona protected her from the public's prying eyes. Out in the world, she enjoyed
playing the part to the extreme; in private she remained herself. She also
realized that the character of "George Sand" could grow stale or predictable, and to avoid this she would every now and then dramatically alter
the character she had created; instead of conducting affairs with famous
men, she would begin meddling in politics, Ieading demonstrations, inspiring student rebellions. No one would dictate to her the limits of the character she had created. Long after she died, and after most people had stopped
reading her noveIs, the Iarger-than-life theatricality of that character has
eontinued to fascinate and inspire.
Throughout Sand's public life, acquaintances and other artists who spent
time in her company had the feeling they were in the presence of a man.
But in her journals and to her dosest friends, such as Gustave Flaubert, she
eonfessed that she had no desire to be a man, but was playing a part for
public consumption. What she really wanted was the power to determine
her own character. She refused the limits her society would have set on her.
She did not attain her power, however, by being herself; instead she created a persona that she could constantly adapt to her own desires, a persona that attracted attention and gave her presence.
Understand this: The world wants to assign you a role in life. And
onee you accept that role you are doomed. Your power is lirnited to the
tiny amount allotted to the role you have selected or have been forced to
assurne. An actor, on the other hand, plays many roles. Enjoy that protean
power, and if it is beyond you,

 at least forge a new identity, one of YOUf
own making, one that has had no boundaries assigned to it by an envious
and resentful world. This act of defiance is Promethean: It makes you responsible for your own creation.
Your new identity will protect you from the world precisely because it
is not "you"; it is a costume you put on and take off. You need not take it
personally. And your new identity sets you apart, gives you theatrical presence. Those in the back rows can see you and hear you. Those in the front
rows marvel at your audacity.
Do not people talk in society of a man being a great actor?

 They do not mean by
that that he feets, but that he excels in simulating, though he feets nothing.
Denis Diderot, 1 713-1 784
The character you seem to have been born with is not necessarily who you
are; beyond the characteristics you have inherited, YOUf parents, your
friends, and your peers have helped to shape your personality. The
Promethean task of the powerful is to take control of the process, to stop allowing others that ability to limit and mold them. Remake YOUfself into a
eharacter of power. Working on yourself like day should be one of YOUf
greatest and most pleasurable Iife tasks. It makes you in essence an artistan artist creating YOUfself.
In fact, the idea of self-creation comes from the world of art. For thouLAW 25 1 95
196 LAW 25
sands of years, only kings and the highest courtiers had the freedom to
shape their public image and determine their own identity. Similarly, 

kings and the wealthiest lords could contemplate their own image in art,
and consciously alter it. The rest of mankind played the limited role that
society demanded of them, and had little self-consciousness.
A shift in this condition can be detected in Veläzquez's painting Las
Meninas, made in 1656. The artist appears at the left of the canvas, standing
before a painting that he is in the process of creating, but that has its back
to us-we cannot see it. Beside hirn stands a princess, her attendants, and
one of the court dwarves, all watching hirn work. The people posing for the
painting are not directly visible, but we can see them in tiny reflections in a
mirror on the back wall-the king and queen of Spain, who must be sitting
somewhere in the foreground, outside the picture. 

The painting represents a dramatic change in the dynamics of power
and the ability to determine one's own position in society. For Veläzquez,
the artist, is far more prominently positioned than the king and queen. In a
sense he is more powerful than they are, since he is clearly the one controlling the image-their image. Veläzquez no longer saw hirnself as the slavish, dependent artist. He had remade hirnself into a man of power. And
indeed the first people other than aristocrats to play openly with their
image in Western society were artists and writers, and later on dandies and
bohemians. Today the concept of self-creation has slowly filtered down to
the rest of society, and has become an ideal to aspire to. Like Veläzquez,
you must demand for yourself the power to determine your position in the
painting, and to create your own image.
The first step in the process of self-creation is self-consciousnessbeing aware of yourself as an actor and taking control of your appearance
and emotions. As Diderot said, the bad actor is the one who is always sincere. People who wear their hearts on their sleeves out in society are tiresome and embarrassing. Their sincerity notwithstanding, it is hard to take
them seriously. Those who cry in public may temporarily elicit sympathy,
but sympathy so on turns to scorn and irritation at their selfobsessiveness-they are crying to get attention, we feel, and a malicious
part of us wants to deny them the satisfaction.
Good actors control themselves better. They can play sincere and
heartfelt, can affect a tear and a compassionate look at will, but they don't
have to feel it. They externalize emotion in a form that others can und erstand. Method acting is fatal in the real world. No mler or leader could
possibly play the part if all of the emotions he showed had to be real. So
leam self-control. Adopt the plasticity of the actor, who can mold his or her
face to the emotion required.
The second step in the process of self-creation is a variation on the
George Sand strategy: the creation of a memorable character, one that
compels attention, that stands out above the other players on the stage.
This was the game Abraham Lincoln played. The homespun, common
country man, he knew, was a kind of president that America had never had
but would delight in electing. Although many of these qualities came naturally to hirn, he played them up-the hat and clothes, the beard. (No president before hirn had worn a beard.) Lincoln was also the first president to
use photographs to spread his image, helping to create the icon of the
"homespun president."
Good drama, however, needs more than an interesting appearance, or
a single stand-out moment. Drama takes place over time--it is an unfolding event. Rhythm and timing are critical. One of the most important elements in the rhythm of drama is suspense. Houdini for instance, could
sometimes complete his escape acts in seconds-but he drew them out to
minutes, to make the audience sweat.
The key to keeping the audience on the edge of their seats is letting
events unfold slowly, then speeding them up at the right moment, according to a pattern and tempo that you control. Great mlers from Napoleon to
Mao Tse-tung have used theatrical timing to surprise and divert their pubIic. Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood the importance of staging political events in a particular order and rhythm.
At the time of his 1932 presidential election, the United States was in
the midst of a dire economic crisis. Banks were failing at an alarming rate

Shortly after winning the election, Roosevelt went into a kind of retreat.
He said nothing about his plans or his cabinet appointments. He even refused to meet the sitting president, Herbert Hoover, to discuss the transition. By the time of Roosevelt's inauguration the country was in a state of
high anxiety.
In his inaugural address, Roosevelt shifted gears. He made a powernd
speech, making it clear that he intended to lead the country in a completely
new direction, sweeping away the timid ge stures of his predecessors. From
then on the pace of his speeches and public decisions-cabinet appointments,

 bold legislation-unfolded at an incredibly rapid rate. The period
after the inauguration became known as the "Hundred Days," and its success in altering the country's mood partly stemmed from Roosevelt's clever
pacing and use of dramatic contrast. He held his audience in suspense,
then hit them with a series of bold ge stures that seemed all the more momentous because they came from nowhere. You must leam to orchestrate
events in a similar manner, never revealing all your cards at once, but unfolding them in a way that heightens their dramatic effect.
Besides covering a multitude of sins, good drama can also confuse and
deceive your enemy. During World War II, the German playwright Bertolt
Brecht worked in Hollywood as a screenwriter. After the war he was called
before the House Committee on Un-American Activities for his supposed
Communist sympathies. Other writers who had been called to testify
planned to humiliate the committee members with an angry emotional
stand. Brecht was wiser: He would play the committee like a violin, charming them while fooling them as weIl. He carefully rehearsed his responses,
and brought along some props, notably a cigar on which he puffed away,
knowing the head of the committee liked cigars. 

And indeed he proceeded
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198 LAW 25
to beguile the committee with well-crafted responses that were ambiguous,
funny, and double-edged. Instead of an angry, heartfelt tirade, he ran circles around them with a staged production, and they let hirn off scot-free.
Other dramatic effects for your repertoire include the beau geste, an
action at a climactic moment that symbolizes your triumph or your boldness. Caesar's dramatic crossing of the Rubicon was a beau geste--a move
that dazzled the soldiers and gave hirn heroic proportions. You must also
appreciate the importance of stage entrances and exits. When Cleopatra
first met Caesar in Egypt, she arrived rolled up in a carpet, which she
arranged to have unfurled at his feet. George Washington twice left power
with flourish and fanfare (first as a general, then as a president who refused
to sit for a third term), showing he knew how to make the moment count,
dramatically and symbolically. Your own entrances and exits should be
crafted and planned as carefully.

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